JEWELS from JAMES
(Choice devotional selections from
the works of John Angell James)
Fiendlike, beastlike, manlike, Godlike
"Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you."
To return evil for good, is fiendlike.
To return evil for evil, is beastlike.
To return good for good, is manlike.
But to return good for evil, is Godlike.
This is true practical Christianity.
"Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer
evil with good." (Romans 12:21)
The religion of this poor Hottentot woman
It is the practice of some of the Christian Hottentots, in
order to enjoy the privilege of secret prayer with greater
privacy and freedom than they could do in their own
confined and incommodious dwellings—to retire among
the trees and bushes, that they may carry on their devotions
without being intruded on by others, and also derive all that
tranquilizing influence which would be produced by a spot,
with which no other occupations, thoughts, and feelings are
associated, than such as are holy. Each individual selects for
his own use a particular bush, behind which, and concealed
by it, he may commune with his heavenly Father in secret.
By the others, this bush is considered as sacred to the one
by whom it had been appropriated; and which, therefore,
is never to be violated by the foot, or even by the gaze of
another, during the season it is occupied by its proprietor.
The constant tread of the worshipers, in their repeated
visits to these hallowed spots, would, of necessity, wear
a path in the grass which lay between their huts, and
the sylvan scene of their communion with God.
On one occasion, a Christian Hottentot woman said to
another member of their little community, "Sister, I am
afraid you are somewhat declining in piety." The words
were accompanied with a look of affection, and were
uttered with a tone that savored nothing of accusation,
nor of reproachful severity—but was expressive of tender
concern, and the meekness of wisdom. The individual thus
addressed, asked her friend for the reason of her fears.
"Because," replied this good and gentle spirit, "the grass
has grown over your path to your bush." Nature
carrying on its usual progress, had disclosed the secret.
The backslider could not deny the fact. There, in the
growing grass, was the indisputable evidence that
the feet which had once trodden it down had ceased to
frequent the spot. She did not attempt to excuse it, but
fell under the sweet influence of this sisterly reproof, and
confessed, with ingenuous shame and sorrow, that her
heart had turned away from the Lord. The admonition
had its desired effect—the sinner was converted from
the error of her ways, and her watchful and faithful
reprover had the satisfaction and reward of seeing the
wanderer restored—not only to the path to the bush,
but to the renewed favor of that God with whom she
there again communed in secret.
Note the value of private prayer, and the connection
between its regular and spiritual performance, and a
healthy state of the soul. When the bush was neglected,
and the path to it forsaken—then did the religion of this
poor Hottentot woman begin to spiritually decline. And
how could it be otherwise? Who ever kept up a vigorous
piety—when secret prayer was neglected?
It is in the closet of private devotion, that . . .
our cares are lightened,
our sorrows mitigated,
our corruptions mortified,
our graces strengthened, and
we shake off the dust of the earth!
Men may see something of God in me!
"For I have given you an example that you also should
do just as I have done for you." (John 13:15)
It has long been my conviction, that there is a great
deficiency in evangelical churches—of the practical
enforcement of Christian duties in detail; especially of
what may be emphatically called the Christian virtues
—the passive graces of the Christian character, the
exercise of brotherly kindness and love.
It is not so acceptable to have all the special and difficult
duties of the Christian's life, or man's conduct to his fellows,
set clearly before the understanding and enforced upon the
conscience. Men do not like to be followed through all the
labyrinths of the heart's deceitfulness, beaten out of every
refuge of lies, and made to feel the obligation to love where
they are inclined to hate; and to forgive where they desire
And we ministers pander too much to this taste. The pulpit
has not done its duty. We have preached to the intellect, to
the imagination, and to the taste—but not enough to the
heart and to the conscience. In our endeavor to please, we
have not been sufficiently intent upon the greater object—to
profit. We have not preached justification too much—but
sanctification too little. We have urged faith—but not love. We
have descanted upon the evil of licentiousness, and falsehood,
and dishonesty, and covetousness—but have said far, far
too little about malice and bitterness. We have urged men to
zeal and liberality—but not enough to humility, forbearance,
and forgiveness. We have rightly led men to view the cross of
Christ—but we have not sufficiently urged them to take up their
own cross. We have properly entreated them to view Jesus as
their Righteousness—but not sufficiently as their Example.
O, Christians . . .
study that wondrous character,
contemplate that illustrious pattern,
dwell upon that beautiful model,
until the frosty incrustations of your cold, hard
heart have all melted, like icicles before the sun!
How wonderful and how ennobling is the conception, and
what an ambition should it raise in the mind of the Christian,
to consider and say, "Men may see something of God in
me!" Yes, we can teach them what God is, as to His moral
character, and let them see in 'our merciful disposition' a ray
of the infinite sun of His own glory. These sweet relentings of
our nature, these soft and genial currents of our soul, these
effusions of love—these, we can remind them, are but the
overflowings of His goodness, His own love, into our hearts,
and the reflection of His infinite mercy to us.
"The one who says he abides in Him should walk
just as He walked." (1 John 2:6)
"Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in His steps." (1 Peter 2:21)
Casting all our sins into oblivion!
"Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing
over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He
does not hold on to His anger forever, because He
delights in faithful love. He will again have compassion
on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all
our sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19)
Wonderful language! This is one of the finest images to
represent the completeness of God's pardoning mercy to
be found in all the Bible. He casts our sins not into a brook
nor a river where they might be found again; no, nor into
the sea near the shore where the tide might wash them up
again—but like a stone cast into the depths of the sea,
where they can never be fished up again, but lie forever
buried and forgotten at the bottom of the ocean! This is
divine forgiveness—casting all our sins into oblivion!
Infected and enfeebled
The church is infected and enfeebled with worldliness.
"Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver
us from this present evil world." Galatians 1:4
"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but
whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17
Do you indeed ACT as you pray?
I need not prove to you that prayer, as a duty, is
essential to Christian conduct; and, as a privilege,
is equally indispensable to Christian enjoyment. All
Christians give themselves to this devout exercise.
Their petitions are copious, comprehensive, and
What solemn professions they make to God!
What ardent desires they express!
What numerous blessings they seek!
What strong resolutions they form!
If we so pray—how ought we to live? What kind of
people must we be—to live up to the standard of our
prayers? And ought we not, in some measure at least,
to reach this standard? Should there not be a harmony,
a consistency, a proportion—between our practice and
Do you indeed ACT as you pray? Do you understand
the import, and feel the obligation of your own petitions?
Do you rise from your knees where you have asked and
knocked—to seek? Do you really want, wish for, and
endeavor to obtain an answer to your prayers? Are you
really intent upon doing, and being—what you ask for
Our prayers are to act upon ourselves; they have,
or ought to have, great power in the formation of
character and the regulation of conduct.
It is plain, therefore, that much of prayer is mere
words. We either do not understand, or do not
consider, or do not mean—what we say.
Do we go from praying—to acting, and to live for
salvation, for heaven, for eternity?
How common is it for professors to pray for victory
over the world; to be delivered from the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; to be
enabled to set their affections on things above, and
not on things of the earth; and to be dead to seen
and temporal things. And yet all the while they are
as obviously eager to amass wealth, to multiply the
attractions of earth, and to enjoy as much luxurious
gratification as possible!
'Spirituality of mind' is the subject of innumerable prayers
from some who never take a step to promote it! But, on the
contrary, who are doing all they can to make themselves
carnally minded! How many repeat that petition, "Lead us
not into temptation," who, instead of most carefully keeping
at the utmost possible distance from all inducements to sin,
place themselves in the very path of sin!
How often do we pray to have the mind of Christ, and to
imitate the example of Jesus. But where is the assiduous
endeavor, the laboring effort, to copy this high model, in . . .
its self-denying condescension,
its profound humility,
its beautiful meekness,
its indifference to worldly comforts,
its forgiving mercy,
its devotedness to God?
How often do we pray to be delivered from evil tempers
and irascible feelings. And yet we indulge them on every
slight provocation, and take no pains to subdue them!
It is unnecessary to multiply the illustrations of the
inconsistency between our prayers and our practice.
So hideous and so dreadful is the offspring!
How dreadful is the nature of sin! Sin is the parent of death.
Death the first-born of sin. What must be the parent—when
so hideous and so dreadful is the offspring! Who can
have watched the harbingers of death—the groans, the pains,
the dying strife—without being struck with the fearful nature
of man's revolt from God?
Death in itself, and by itself—is horrid and revolting! To see
all this inflicted upon a Christian, a child of God, an heir of
glory; to see no way even to the kingdom of God, to the
realms of immortality—but this dark valley of corruption,
earth, and worms—this gives us a most impressive idea
of the dreadful nature of sin! How such scenes should
enlarge our views of the malignity of sin, and embitter
our hearts against it!
O sin, sin—what have you done!
Like water to the flame of joy
"I have spoken these things to you, so that My joy may
be in you, and your joy may be full." John 15:11
One of the reasons why so little spiritual joy is experienced
by the majority of Christian professors, is because of SIN.
Sin weakens spiritual joy—and ought to do so! I do not now
mean immorality—for that extinguishes joy! I mean . . .
the lesser workings of our corruption,
the sins of the heart,
the sins of the tongue,
the sins of the character,
sins known only to God and conscience,
sins of omission,
sins of defect.
I mean sins that do not unchristianize us, any more
than they excommunicate us from the church. Such
sins unopposed, unmortified—do, and must, prevent
or diminish our joy. They may not put out the light of
our piety altogether—but they surround it with an
impure atmosphere, a thick fog—which prevents its
light from shining upon the heart!
The religion of many is altogether too feeble. They are
too worldly, too lukewarm, live too far from God—to
derive much joy and peace from their piety. Spiritual
joy, is joy—in God, in Christ, in holiness, in heaven!
And when, therefore, the professor lives so little in
the closet, communes so little with his Bible, and
lives so far from God—it can be no wonder that his
religion does not make him happy!
My dear friends, let me now entreat you to avoid these
hindrances, and to seek after more of that heavenly,
holy, happy frame of mind. Pray for it, for it is a fruit
of the Spirit. Be much in converse with your Bibles, for
it comes in the way of understanding, believing, and
experiencing the truth. Find time for private, silent
meditation, for the truth will not be seen, so as to affect
the heart, by a hasty glance at Scripture. Seek to have
your faith strengthened, for your joy must ever be in
proportion to your faith.
Watch against sin, for sin is like water to the flame
of joy. Cultivate all the branches of holiness; for holiness
is happiness. You must have eminent piety, if you would
have spiritual joy. Spiritual joy is the oil to the wheels of
obedience. It is this which braces up the soul for action,
and carries it forward through difficult and self-denying
How can we best vanquish the world, that ever present,
and every where present foe, which comes in so many
forms—and with such golden pleas? How, but by a heart
already well pleased with its own happiness in Christ.
Spiritual joy is the world's vanquisher! The heart by holy
joy rises above the world—sees it below, covered with
smoke and dust, and finds itself in a brighter, purer,
happier region, with the cloudless sun above, and all
around filled with glory. What has the world to offer
comparable to that which a rejoicing faith has found in
Christ? What has 'worldly ambition' to offer, which can
vie with this? He may spurn the favor of the crowned
prince, and put his crown aside as a bauble—who is
rejoicing in hope of an incorruptible crown of life and
"The joy of the Lord is your strength!" Nehemiah 8:10
Though we mourn—we must not murmur
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will
leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes
away. Praise the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21)
"See, I am the only God! There are no others. I kill,
and I make alive! I wound, and I heal, and no one
can rescue you from My power!" Deuteronomy 32:39
When a holy and beloved object of our affection is removed
by death, we ought to sorrow. Humanity demands it; and
Christianity, in the person of the weeping Jesus, allows it.
The man without a tear, is a savage or a Stoic—but not a
Christian. God intends when He bestows His gifts—that they
should be received with smiles of gratitude; and when He
recalls them—that they should be surrendered with "drops
of sacred grief." Sorrow is an affection implanted by the
Creator in the soul, for wise and beneficent purposes; and
it ought not to be ruthlessly torn up by the roots—but
directed in its exercise by reason and piety.
The work of grace, though it is above nature—is not against
it. The man who tells me not to weep at the grave—insults
me, mocks me, and wishes to degrade me! Tears are the
silent, pure, sincere testimony of my heart to the excellence
of the gift He gave in mercy; and in mercy, no doubt, as well
as judgment, He has recalled.
But, then, though we mourn—we must not murmur.
We may sorrow—but not with the violent and uncontrolled
grief of the heathen, who have no hope.
Our sorrow must flow, deep as we like, but noiseless and still
—in the channels of submission. It must be a sorrow so quiet,
as to hear all the words of consolation which our heavenly Father
utters amidst the gentle strokes of His rod. It must be a sorrow
so reverential, as to adore Him for the exercise of His prerogative
in taking away what and whom He pleases. It must be a sorrow so
composed, as to prepare us for doing His will as well as bearing it.
It must be a sorrow so meek and gentle, as to justify Him in His
dispensations. It must be a sorrow so confiding, as to be assured
that there is as much love in taking the mercy away—as there was
in bestowing it. It must be a sorrow so grateful, as to be thankful
for the mercies left—as well as afflicted for the mercies lost. It must
be a sorrow so trustful, as to look forward to the future with hope.
It must be a sorrow so patient, as to bear all the aggravations that
accompany or follow the bereavement with unruffled acquiescence.
It must be a sorrow so holy, as to lift the prayer of faith for Divine
grace, to sanctify the stroke. It must be a sorrow so lasting, as to
preserve through all the coming years of life, the benefit of that
event, which in one solemn moment changed the whole aspect
of our earthly existence.
These are the idols of the heart!
The first commandment of the decalogue says, "You shall
have no other gods before Me." The meaning of this precept,
which is the foundation of all religion, is not merely that we
shall not acknowledge any other God besides Jehovah—but
also that we shall treat Him as God! That is, we . . .
must love Him with all our hearts,
serve Him with all our lives, and
depend upon Him for our supreme felicity.
It is obvious that whatever we love most, and are most
anxious to retain and please—whatever it is we depend
most upon for happiness and help—whatever has most
of our hearts—that is, in effect, is our God! It does not
matter whether it is friends, possessions, desires—or
our own selves!
These are the idols of the heart!
SELF is the great idol which is the rival of God, and which
divides with Him the worship of the human race. It is
surprising and affecting to think how much SELF enters
into almost all we do. Besides the grosser form of self-
righteousness, which leads many unconverted people
actually to depend upon their own doings for acceptance
with God; how much of . . .
there is in many converted ones!
How covertly do some seek their own praise in what
they professedly do for God, and their fellow-creatures!
How eager are they for the admiration and applause
of their fellow-creatures! How much of self, yet how
little suspected by themselves—is seen by One who
knows them better than they know themselves, at
the bottom of their most splendid services, donations,
and most costly sacrifices!
In how many ways does self steal away the heart from God!
How subtle are its workings, how concealed its movements,
yet how extensive is its influence. How SELF . . .
perverts our motives,
lowers our aims,
corrupts our affections, and
taints our best actions!
How much incense is burned—and how many
sacrifices are offered on the altar of this idol!
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols!" 1 John 5:21
The prevailing sin of Christians
Increasing deadness to the world, and growing spirituality
of mind, are sure results of 'sanctified affliction'.
The love of the world is the great snare of the church
in every age! Worldly-mindedness is now the prevailing
sin of Christians. We see them on all hands too eager to
make themselves happy on earth, and seeking their enjoyments,
if not in the sinful amusements of the world—yet in its 'innocent
and home-bred comforts'. They look not at unseen and eternal
things, but at seen and temporal things. Theirs is too much a
life of 'sense', refined it is true from its gross sinfulness—but
still a life of sense, rather than a life of faith.
Hence there is "a needs be" for severe trials, if not to separate
them and keep them separate from open and gross sins—yet
to lift up their affections to things above, and to lead them to
seek their happiness . . .
from God, the fountain of life;
from Christ, the Redeemer of their souls; and
from heaven, the object of their expectations.
When the world has been crucified to us, and we have been
crucified to the world; when we have been taught its vanity
and emptiness as a satisfying portion for the soul; when we
have lost much of our anxiety to obtain its possessions, and
of our dread of losing them; when we have turned from the
folly of hewing out broken cisterns which can hold no water,
and led more to the fountain of living waters; when we have
lost our dependence on our comforts and possessions for
happiness, and feel and rejoice in a glorious independence
from 'created good' for bliss—when there is really and truly
a conscious elevation of soul towards God and divine things
—there is the evidence that we are sanctified by our trials.
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your
word. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might
learn Your statutes. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments
are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted
me." (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75)
The most subtle, stubborn, and tenacious foe
"Don't you know that your body is a sanctuary of the
Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?
You are not your own, for you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corin. 6:19-20
Recollect that the renunciation of SELF, as well as of SIN,
was one of the solemn transactions of that scene, and that
time—when you bowed by faith at the foot of the cross,
received mercy through Jesus Christ, and yielded yourselves
to God. You then abjured, not only self-righteousness, but
self-seeking, self-pleasing, and self-living. Self, as a
supreme object, was renounced.
Self, until then, had been your loftiest aim; self-love your
highest affection—but then you transferred your aim and
your affection to another object. The Christian has no right
to ask what he will do with himself; or to what he will give
himself; or how he will employ himself. He is no longer at
liberty to inquire how he shall spend his energies, his time,
his properly, his labor, and his influence; for he is not his
own—he is bought with a price.
He is not to live for fame—and please himself with the
applause of his fellow creatures.
Nor is he to live for riches—and please himself with
Nor is he to live for health—and please himself with
the glowing energies of a sound body.
Nor is he to live for taste—and please himself with
the pursuit of literature, science, or the arts.
Nor is he to live for social enjoyment—and please
himself with an agreeable circle of friends.
Nor is he to live for ease—and please himself with
In short, he is not to consider himself as his own
master—to please himself supremely in any way;
nor his own property—to employ himself on his own
account, and for his own benefit. He is not to imagine
that personal gratification is to be his end and aim—for
the accomplishment of which he may lay down his own
schemes, select his own course, and pursue his own
methods—as if he had an independent and sovereign
right over himself. Self is . . .
"the old man" to be crucified with Christ;
the body of sin to be destroyed;
the corrupt nature to be put away;
the law in our members to be resisted;
the lusts of the mind to be subdued.
Self is the enemy of God—to be fought against; the
rival interest with Christ in our soul—to be subdued;
the means by which the devil would hold us in
alienation from holiness—to be opposed.
Self is the most subtle, the most stubborn, the
most tenacious foe with which grace has to contend,
in the soul of the believer. SELF lives, and works, and
fights—when many other corruptions are mortified. Self
is the last stronghold—the very citadel of Satan in the
heart—which is reduced to the obedience of faith.
Why do believers murmur at the painful dispensations of
Providence, and find submission so hard an achievement?
Because self is disturbed in its enjoyment!
Why are they so easily offended, and experience such
difficulty in showing forgiveness? Because self-esteem
has been wounded!
Why are they covetous? Because self is gratified by its
What is vanity—but the indulgence of self-love?
What is ambition—but the exultation of self?
What is pride—but the worship of self?
Why are they so reluctant to give their time and labor
for the good of others, and the glory of God? Because
they want it for ease, and the enjoyment of self!
Why are they peevish, quarrelsome, and discontented
with the little annoyances of life, which are everywhere
and continually occurring? Because they want to settle
down in unmolested ease, and undisturbed quiet, to
But is this right? Is not this living as if we were our own?
Is not this living for ourselves? Is not this forgetting that
we are purchased property, belonging to another?
My dear friends, do consider this subject. Weigh well the
import of the condition of Christian discipleship, as laid
down by our Lord: "If any man will come after Me, LET
HIM DENY HIMSELF." Self-denial, not self-pleasing, is
your business! And the evidence of our being disciples
is in exact proportion to our disposition thus to take up
If we are coveting ease, quiet, soft indulgence, luxurious
gratification—and are dissatisfied, and discontented, and
contentious, and peevish, because we cannot please
ourselves, nor get others to please us, as the supreme
end of life—how can we dream that we are the disciples
of Him, of whom it is declared, "He pleased not Himself,"
especially since it is said, "Let the same mind be in you
which was in Christ Jesus?"
For whom then are we to live, and whom are we to
please, if not ourselves? Who is to come in the place
of self? GOD! And for this obvious reason—we are
God's! God's servants! God's property!
All others are walking to perdition!
"Enoch walked with God." (Genesis 5:24)
Walking with God! Is this our religion? Does this
aptly set forth our life? It makes no difference . . .
to which church we belong,
nor what creed we adopt,
nor what ceremonies we profess,
nor what zeal for religious things we have
—if we are not walking with God!
Reconciliation with Him through faith in our Lord Jesus
Christ; a habitual acting as in His sight and with a view to
His approbation, and a life of devotional communion with
Him—is true religion—in whomever or wherever found.
Walking with God! Is this religion ours?
Do we intelligently, experimentally, know the meaning
of that phrase—walking with God? Let us set it down
before us, look at it, ponder it, and never cease to
study it, until we know its meaning, and feel its force!
None are walking to heaven, but those who are walking
with God! All others are walking to perdition! We
hear a great deal about other things that are connected
with religion—its doctrines, its forms, its creeds—but
walking with God is true religion. If we know nothing
of this, we know nothing of true piety!
It is walking with God—and not any external matter,
that distinguishes the real from the nominal Christian!
And it is 'close walking with God' which distinguishes the
earnest Christian from the comparatively lukewarm one.
The earnest Christian walks closely with God, presses,
so to speak, to his very side; while the other, like Peter,
during his season of cowardice, follows afar off.
"Walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
Over-indulgence of fond and foolish parents!
"I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his
family. I have warned him continually that judgment is
coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming
God and he hasn't disciplined them." 1 Samuel 3:12-13
There is, in some households,
no family government,
The children are kept under no restraint, but are
allowed to do what they like. Their faults are
intentionally unnoticed and unpunished, and their
corruptions allowed to grow wild and headstrong;
until, in fact, the whole family becomes utterly
lawless, rebellious against parental authority—and
grievous to all around them!
How many have had to curse the over-indulgence of
fond and foolish parents! How many, as they have
ruminated amid the desolations of poverty, or the walls
of a prison, have exclaimed, "O, my cruelly fond parents,
had you exercised that authority with which God entrusted
you, over your children, and had you checked my childish
corruptions, and punished my boyish disobedience; had
you subjected me to the beneficial restraint of wholesome
discipline, I would not have brought you with a broken heart
to your grave, nor myself with a ruined life to the jail!"
Overindulgence of children is awfully common, and continually
making shocking ravages in human character. It is a system of
great cruelty to the children, to the parents themselves, and
to society. This practice proceeds from various causes; in some
instances, from a perverted and intentional sentimentalism;
in others, from absolute indolence, and a regard to present
ease, which leads the silly mother to adopt any means of
coaxing, and yielding, and bribing—to keep the "young rebels"
quiet for the time!
It is not uncommon for parents to treat the first acts of
infantile rebellion, rather as accidents to be smiled at,
than as sins to be disciplined. "O," says the mother, "it
is only play, he will know better soon. He does not mean
any harm. I cannot discipline him."
Lack of parental discipline, from whatever cause it
proceeds, it is in the highest degree injurious to the
character of the children!
For wives only!
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."
In every society, there must be authority vested somewhere,
and some ultimate authority, some last and highest tribunal
established, from the decision of which there lies no appeal.
In the family constitution this authority rests in the husband
—he is the head, the law-giver, the ruler. In all matters
concerning the 'little world in the house', he is to direct,
not indeed without taking counsel with his wife. But in all
differences of view, he is to decide—unless he chooses to
waive his right; and to his decision the wife should yield,
and yield with grace and cheerfulness.
Usurpation of authority is always hateful, and it is one of
the most offensive exhibitions of it, where the husband is
degraded into a slave of the queen mother.
I admit it is difficult for a sensible woman to submit to
imbecility, but she should have considered this before she
united herself to it. Having committed one error, let her not
fall into a second, but give the strongest proof of her good
sense which circumstances will allow her to offer, by making
that concession to the God-given authority of her husband.
She may reason, she may persuade, she may solicit—but if
ignorance cannot be convinced, nor obstinacy turned, nor
kindness conciliated, she has no resource left but to submit.
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."
For husbands only!
"And you husbands must love your wives with the same
love Christ showed the church. He gave up His life for
her to make her holy." Ephesians 5:25-26
Christ's love is SINCERE.
He did not love in word only, but in deed, and in truth. In
Him there was no deceitfulness; no epithets of endearment
going forth out of untruthful lips; no actions varnished over
with a mere covering of love. We must be like Him, and
endeavor to maintain a principle of true love in the heart,
as well as a manifestation of it in the conduct.
It is a miserable thing to have to act the part of love, without
feeling it. Hypocrisy is base in everything; but next to religion,
is most base in affection. Besides, how difficult is it to act the
part well, to keep on the mask, and to pretend the character
so as to escape detection! Oh, the misery of that woman's
heart, who at length finds out to her cost, that what she had
been accustomed to receive and value as the attentions of a
lover—are but the tricks of a cunning deceiver!
The love of the Redeemer is ARDENT.
Let us, if we would form a correct idea of what should be the
state of our hearts towards the woman of our choice, think of
that affection which glowed in the bosom of a Savior, when He
lived and died for His people. We can possess, it is true, neither
the same kind, nor the same degree of love—but surely when we
are referred to such an instance, if not altogether as a model,
yet as a motive, it does teach us, that no weak affection is due,
or should be offered to the wife of our bosom. We are told by the
Savior Himself, that if He laid down his life for us, it is our duty to
lay down ours for the brethren; how much more for the "friend that
sticks closer than a brother." And if it be our duty to lay down our
life, how much more to employ it while it lasts, in all the offices
of an affection—strong, steady, and inventive!
She who for our sake has forsaken the comfortable home, and
the watchful care, and the warm embrace of her parents—has
a right to expect in our love, that which shall make her "forget
her father's house," and cause her to feel that with respect to
happiness, she is no loser by the exchange. Happy the woman,
and such should every husband strive to make his wife, who can
look back without a sigh upon the moment, when she left forever,
the guardians, the companions, and the scenes of her childhood.
The love of Christ to His church is SUPREME.
He gives to the world His benevolence—but to the church His
love! "The Lord your God in the midst of you," said the prophet,
"is mighty; He will save you, He will rejoice over you with joy;
He will rest in His love—He will rejoice over you with singing."
So must the husband love his wife, above all else—he must
"rest in his love." He should love her not only above all outside
his house—but above all within it. She must take precedence
both in his heart and conduct, not only of all strangers, but of
all relatives, and also of all his children. He ought to love his
children for her sake, rather than her for their sake.
Is this always the case? On the contrary have we not often
seen men, who appear to be far more interested in their
children than in their wives; and who have paid far less
attention to the latter than to grown-up daughters? How
especially unseemly is it, for a man to be seen fonder of
the society of any other woman, than that of his wife, even
where nothing more may be intended than the pleasure of
her company. Nor ought he to forsake her, in his leisure
hours, for any companions of his own sex, however pleasant
might be their demeanor or their conversation.
The love of Christ is UNIFORM.
Like Himself, it is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Marital affection should have the same character; it should
be at all times, and in all places alike; the same at home
as abroad; in other peoples houses as in our own. Has not
many a wife to sigh and exclaim—"Oh! that I were treated
in my own house, with the same tenderness and attention
as I receive in company!" With what almost loathing and
disgust must such a woman turn from endearments, which
under such circumstances she can consider as nothing but
hypocrisy! Home is the chief place for fond and minute
attention; and she who has not to complain of a lack of
it there, will seldom feel the need or the inclination to
complain of a lack of it abroad—except it be those silly
women, who would degrade their husbands, by exacting not
merely what is really kind, but what is actually ridiculous.
The love Jesus is PRACTICAL and LABORIOUS.
He provided everything for the welfare and comfort of
the church, and at a cost and by exertions of which we
can form no idea.
The business of providing for the family belongs chiefly
to the husband. It is yours my brethren to rise up early,
to sit up late, to eat the bread of carefulness, and to
drink if necessary, the waters of affliction, that you may
earn by the sweat of your brow, a comfortable support for
the family circle. This is probably what the apostle meant,
when he enjoined us to give honor to the wife as to the
weaker vessel—the honor of providing for her, which she
in consequence of the weakness of her frame, and the
frequent infirmities which the maternal relation brings
upon her, is not so well able to procure for herself.
In most barbarous countries, and in some half-civilized
ones, the burden of manual labor falls upon the woman,
while her tyrant husband lives in indolence, feeding upon
the industry of the hapless being whom he calls a wife—
but treats as a slave! And are there no such idle tyrants
in our age and country, who so as they can live in indolence,
and gratify their appetites, care not how they oppress their
wives—wretches who do little or nothing for the support of
the family? How utterly lost to every noble and generous
sentiment must that man be, whose heart cannot be moved
by the entreaties or tears of his own wife, and who can hear
in vain her pleadings for his child at her bosom, and his child
by her side, and who by such appeals cannot be induced to
give up his daily visits to the tavern, or his habits of
sauntering idleness, to attend to his neglected business,
and hold off the approaching tide of poverty and ruin.
Such a creature is worse than a brute—he is a monster! And
it seems a pity that there is no law and no prison-ship to
take him away to a land where, if he will not work, so neither
could he eat!
A practical affection to a wife extends to everything! It should
manifest itself in the most delicate attention to her comfort,
and her feelings; in consulting her tastes; in concealing her
failings; in never doing anything to degrade her, but everything
to exalt her before her children and others; in acknowledging her
excellencies, and commending her efforts to please him; in meeting,
and even in anticipating all her reasonable requests; in short, in
doing all that ingenuity can invent for her substantial happiness
and general comfort.
Christ's love to His church is DURABLE and UNCHANGEABLE.
"Having loved His own, He loved them to the end"—without
abatement or alteration. So ought men to love their wives, not
only at the beginning; but to the end of their union; when the
charms of beauty have fled before the withering influence of
disease; when the vigorous and sprightly frame has lost its
elasticity, and the step has become slow and faltering—when
the wrinkles of old age have followed the bloom of youth, and
the whole person seems rather the monument, than the
resemblance of what it once was. Has she not gained in mind,
what she has lost in exterior fascinations? Have not her mental
graces flourished amid the ruins of personal charms? If the 'rose'
and the 'lily' have faded on the cheek—have not the 'fruits of
righteousness' grown in the soul? If those blossoms have
departed, on which the eye of youthful passion gazed with so
much ardor, has it not been to give way to the ripe fruit of
Christian excellence? The woman is not what she once was—
but the wife, the mother, the Christian—are better than they
For an example of marital love in all its power and excellence,
point me not to the bride and bridegroom displaying during the
first month of their union, all the watchfulness and tenderness
of affection—but let me look upon the husband and wife of fifty,
whose love has been tried by the lapse and the changes of a
quarter of a century, and who through this period and by these
vicissitudes, have grown in attachment and esteem; and whose
affection, if not glowing with all the fervid heat of a midsummer's
day, is still like the sunshine of an October noon—warm and
beautiful, as reflected amid autumnal tints!
"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies—he who
loves his wife loves himself." A man's children are parts of himself;
his wife is himself—"for the two shall be one flesh." This is his duty
and the measure of it too; which is so plain, that, if he understands
how he treats himself, there needs nothing be added concerning his
demeanor towards her. For what tender care does he take of his body,
and uses it with a delicate tenderness, and cares for it in all
contingencies, and watches to keep it from all evils, and studies to
make for it fair provisions. So let a man love his wife as his own body.
Husbands! It is in your power to do more for your wife's happiness,
or misery, than any other being in the universe! An unkind husband
is a tormentor of the first class. His victim can never elude his grasp,
nor go beyond the reach of his cruelty, until she is kindly released by
the 'king of terrors', who, in this instance, becomes to her an angel of
light, and conducts her to the grave as to a shelter from her oppressor!
For such a woman there is no rest on earth—the destroyer of her
peace has her always in his power, for she is always in his presence,
or in the fear of it. The circumstances of every place, and every day,
furnish him with the occasions of cruel neglect or unkindness, and it
might be fairly questioned, whether there is to be found on earth a
case of greater misery, than a woman whose heart daily withers
under the cold looks, the chilling words, and repulsive actions of
a husband who loves her not. Such a man is a murderer, though in
this world he escapes the murderer's doom; and by a refinement
of cruelty, he employs years in conducting his victim to her end,
by the slow process of a lingering death.
A ball, a concert, a festivity, a party!
Some of you are bent upon present worldly enjoyment.
The apostle has described your taste and your pursuits
where he says, "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers
of God." Ponder that description. Does it not startle and
horrify you? Lovers of parties, of the dance and the song,
of the gay scene and frivolous chat—more than God!
Just look at this thought in all its naked deformity. A ball,
a concert, a festivity, a party—loved more than God! Not
to love God at all for higher objects than these—for science,
literature, fame, rank, wealth—is a dreadful state of mind!
But to neglect and despise God for scenes of frivolity,
mirth, and pleasure—is it not shocking?
Did you ever yet seriously reflect thus—"What a dreadful
heart I must have—which can love pleasure, but cannot
Consider what this desire for pleasure will do for you . . .
in the hour of sickness,
in the scenes of poverty,
in the season of calamity,
in the agonies of death,
in the bottomless pit?
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be
alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Gen. 2:18
Woman's mission is to be the suitable help-mate
of that man, to whom she has given herself as the
companion of his pilgrimage upon earth.
She is, in wedded life, to be his constant companion,
in whose companionship he is to find one, who meets
him hand to hand, eye to eye, lip to lip, and heart to
heart—to whom he can unburden the secrets of a heart
pressed down with care, or wrung with anguish;
whose presence shall be to him above all other friendship;
whose voice shall be his sweetest music;
whose smiles his brightest sunshine;
from whom he shall go forth with regret; and to whose
company he shall return with willing feet, when the toils
of the day are over; who shall walk near his loving heart,
and feel the throbbing of affection as her arm leans on
his, and presses on his side.
In his hours of private companionship, he shall tell her
all the secrets of his heart; find in her all the capabilities,
and all the promptings, of the most tender and endeared
fellowship; and in her gentle smiles, and unrestrained
speech, enjoy all to be expected in one who was given
by God to be his companion and friend.
That companionship which woman was designed to afford
to man, must of course be included the sympathetic offices
of the comforter. It is hers, in their hours of retirement, to
console and cheer him; when he is injured or insulted, to
heal the wounds of his troubled spirit; when burdened by
care, to lighten his load by sharing it; when groaning with
anguish, to calm by her peace-speaking words the tumult
of his heart; and act, in all his sorrows, the part of a
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be
alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Gen. 2:18
Dreadful and murderous cruelty!
What genuine believer can for a moment question
whether his children's eternal salvation ought to
be the supreme solicitude of his heart?
If we look to the great bulk of mankind it is perfectly
evident that true religion hardly enters into their view.
They are very willing that their children should go to
church; but as to any concern for the religious character,
and the formation of pious habits—they are as destitute
of everything of this kind, as if religion were a mere fable,
or were nothing more than a mere form. Their chief object
is either elegant and fashionable accomplishments, or
learning and science—and provided their children excel in
these, they never make any enquiry or feel any concern
whether they fear God. They would be not only surprised,
but would either laugh you to scorn, or scowl upon you
with indignation, for proposing such fanatical questions
in reference to their children! Yes, this is the way of the
greater part of parents, even in this religious country.
To train them up to shine and make a figure in society,
is all they seek.
Dreadful and murderous cruelty!
Degrading and groveling ambition!
To lose sight of the soul, and neglect salvation, and forget
immortality! To train them in every kind of knowledge but the
knowledge of religion! To instruct them in an acquaintance with
every kind of subject, but to leave them in ignorance of God
their Creator, their Preserver and Benefactor! To fit them to
act their part well on earth, and to leave them unprepared for
heaven! To qualify them to go with advantage through the
scenes of time, and then to leave them unfit for the glorious
and enduring scenes of eternity!
O strange fondness of irreligious parents!
O miserable destiny of their hapless offspring!
In direct opposition to this, the chief end of every Christian
parent must be the spiritual interests, the religious character,
the eternal salvation of his children. His highest ambition, his
most earnest prayer, his most vigorous pursuit, his eye, his
heart, and his hope should be engaged for their eternal welfare!
This should be the nature and exercise of his concern—"I am
desirous, if it pleases God, that my children should be blessed
with the enjoyment of reason, of health, of such a moderate
portion of worldly wealth, and worldly respectability as is
compatible with their station in life; and with a view to this
I will give them all the advantages of a suitable education.
But above and beyond this, I far more intensely desire, and
far more earnestly pray, and far more anxiously seek, that
they may have the fear of God in their hearts, may be made
partakers of true religion, and be everlastingly saved. And
provided God grants me the latter, by bestowing upon them
His grace, I shall feel that my chief object is accomplished,
and be quite reconciled to any circumstances which may
otherwise befall them. For rather would I see them in the
humble valley of poverty, if at the same time they were true
Christians—than on the very pinnacle of worldly grandeur,
but destitute of true piety."
Such should be the views and feelings and desires of all true
Christian parents. Religion should be at the very center of all
their schemes and pursuits for their offspring. This should be
the guiding principle, the directing object, the great landmark
by which all their course should be steered.
"Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He
had taken from the man, and brought her to Adam."
Woman was the finishing grace of the creation.
Woman was the completeness of man's bliss in Paradise.
Woman is the mother of the human race.
Woman was the cause of sin and death to our world.
The world was redeemed by the seed of the woman.
Woman is our companion, counselor, and comforter in the
pilgrimage of life—or our tempter, scourge, and destroyer.
Our sweetest cup of earthly happiness—or our bitterest
draught of sorrow, is mixed and administered by her hand.
She not only renders smooth or rough our path to the
grave—but helps or hinders our progress to immortality.
In heaven we shall bless God for her aid in assisting
us to reach that blissful state—or amid the torments
of unutterable woe in another region, we shall deplore
the fatality of her influence!
I look beyond the painted and gaudy scene of earth's
fading vanities, to the everlasting ages through which
you must exist in torment or bliss; and, God helping me,
it shall not be my fault if you do not live in comfort,
die in peace, and inherit salvation!
The first book they read
"Train up a child in the way he should go."
Education in modern parlance, means nothing
more than instruction, or the communication of
knowledge to the mind; and a good education
means, the opportunity of acquiring all kinds
of learning, science, and what are called
But properly speaking, education in the true
and higher import of the term, means . . .
the implanting of right dispositions,
the cultivation of the heart,
the guidance of the temper,
the formation of the character.
The most important part of education is that
which relates to the communication of godly
principles, and the formation of moral habits.
You educate your children by . . .
your likings and dislikings,
your home life,
your daily behavior,
these, these will educate them!
You began educating your children the moment they
were capable of forming an idea. This unconscious
education is of more constant and powerful effect,
and of far more consequence than that which is
direct and apparent. This education goes on at
every instant of time. It goes on like time—you
can neither stop it nor turn its course.
Your children may read many books, but the first
book they read, and that which they continue to
read, and by far the most influential—is that of
their parents' example and daily deportment.
Pointing or leading?
Children have their eyes always upon their parents,
and are quick to discern any violations of consistency.
If they see us as worldly-minded, as grasping and
anxious after riches, as solicitous to be surrounded
by splendid furniture, luxurious gratifications, and
fashionable habits, as the people of the world—if
they see us deceitful, implacable, or malicious—what
can they conclude but that our religion is mere sham?
In such a case, of how little service is our attempt
to impress upon their minds, those claims which we
ourselves 'practically' deny? It were far better for some
parents to say nothing to their children about religion,
for until they alter their own conduct, their admonitions
can produce no other effect than to excite disgust!
It is enough to make every parent tremble—to think
what a parent should be! Without a godly example,
everything else that we do is most lamentably deficient!
As has been often said, it is only pointing them the
way to heaven—but leading them in the way to hell!
They slay their own children!
A mother should never forget that those little engaging
creatures which play about the room so gaily and so
innocently, with all the unconsciousness of childhood, are
young immortals—beings destined to eternity—creatures
placed on earth on probation for heaven—and that much
will depend upon her, whether the everlasting ages shall
be spent by them in torment—or in bliss!
This is an overwhelming thought!
All should realize the sublime idea that . . .
their houses are the schools for eternity;
their children the scholars;
themselves the teachers; and
evangelical religion the lesson.
Those parents who neglect the religious education
of their children, whatever else they may impart,
are more guilty than Herod!
He slew the children of others,
they slay their own children!
He slew only the body,
they slay the soul!
He slew them by hired assassins,
they slay their children themselves!
We shudder at the cruelties of those who sacrificed
their babes to Moloch. But how much more dreadful
an immolation do they practice, who offer up their
sons and daughters to Satan, by neglecting the
education of their souls, and leaving them to grow
up in ignorance of God and their eternal destiny!
Mothers! Your religion, if it is genuine, will teach you
at once the greatness of the work, and your own
insufficiency to perform it aright in your own strength.
Your business is to train immortal beings for God,
heaven, and eternity!
The domestic slave
There are various kinds of slavery in the world, and
many classes of victims of this cruel bondage. There is
among others, the domestic slave, whose tyrant is her
husband—and the scene of her bondage, her home!
His stinginess allows her scanty supplies for bare
necessities. His selfishness is so engrossing and exacting,
that his demands for his own personal ease and indulgence
are incessant, and leave her no time for the consideration
of her own comfort. His disposition is so bad, that all her
diligence to please are unavailing to give him satisfaction,
or to avert the sallies of his irritability, discontent, and
When such a man protests against Negro-slavery, let him
begin the work of emancipation at home, by raising the
oppressed woman he holds in bondage there, from the
condition of a drudge—into the station of a wife!
But there are also many sad cases in which the slavery is
self-imposed! The bondage comes from the wife herself!
The husband would gladly release her—but she will not
Some are slaves to neatness—and make their fidgety
anxiety about this matter a misery to themselves and
all around them!
Others are slaves to fashion—and are always anxious
and troubled about elegance and refinement!
Others are slaves to domestic display, parties and
amusements—and are always full of anxiety about
making a splendid appearance!
Others are slaves to frugality—and are ever vexing
themselves to economize!
In these ways women will torment themselves and fill
their minds with unnecessary cares and self-imposed
troubles! To all such we say, "Martha, Martha, you are
anxious and troubled about so many things!"
A hideous skeleton!
A collection of bones!
A heap of dust!
"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty
that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive
jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be
known for the beauty that comes from within,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:3-4
How exquisitely is this put! How impressive the ideas
which are conveyed! It is the decoration of the soul
rather than of the body, about which Christian women
should be chiefly solicitous and concerned.
The soul is indestructible and immortal—so should its
ornaments be. What can jewels of silver or jewels of
gold do for the soul?
Can the diamond sparkle upon the intellect?
Or the ruby blaze upon the heart?
Or the pearl be set in the conscience?
Or the gorgeous robe clothe the character?
Or the flower wave over the holy nature?
No! The appropriate ornaments of the soul are truth,
holiness, knowledge, faith, hope, love, joy, humility;
and all the other gifts and graces of the Spirit—wisdom,
prudence, fortitude and gentleness. These are the jewels
with which the inner heart should be adorned. The outer
body is corruptible. Dust it is, and unto dust it shall return.
That beautiful woman glittering in all the profusion of
diamonds—the admiration and envy of the party or the
ball room—must before long be a mass of putrefaction
too ghastly to be looked upon—and then a hideous
skeleton, a collection of bones, a heap of dust!
And where will be the immortal spirit? Will it wear
the cast-off jewels of the body? O no! These remain,
rescued from the grasp of the 'king of terrors', but
only to ornament other bodies!
But turn now to that other female, the woman who,
regardless of the decoration of the body, was all
intent upon the beauty of the soul. Look at her,
who was clothed with the robe of righteousness
and the garment of salvation, and decorated with
the ornaments of a gentle and quiet spirit.
She too dies; but her indestructible and immortal
soul over which death has no dominion, goes not
unadorned into the presence of the Eternal; for the
jewels with which it decorated itself on earth are as
indestructible as its own nature, and go with it to
shine in the presence of God!
All taken up with fashion, amusement, and folly!
"Make the teaching about God our Savior attractive
in every way." Titus 2:10
It is a solemn thing to profess to be a disciple of Christ.
It supposes you to be a new creature, that old things
have passed away, and that all things have become
new with you.
It supposes that you have . . .
new ends of life,
new tastes and new pleasures.
Now, your profession is to be maintained with a due
regard to this. Your conduct must correspond with it.
You must be dissimilar in these things, to those who
make no such profession. They must see the difference
as well as hear of it. You must compel them to say,
"Well, we do not like her religion, but it is quite in
harmony with her profession."
Study your profession, and thoroughly understand
what it implies and enjoins. Consider well . . .
what holiness of conduct;
what spirituality of mind;
what separation from the world in spirit and taste;
what devotional feelings;
what faith, hope, love and humility;
what amiableness and kindness of disposition,
are included in that declaration you have actually
made—"I am a Christian!"
She who is bent upon eternity, cannot sink down into
the levity of those who are all taken up with fashion,
amusement, and folly!
The possessor of true religion is satisfied with her
own sources of enjoyment, without running to the
amusements of the world for pleasure and excitement.
One of the loveliest scenes
A married couple without mutual love, is one of
the most pitiable spectacles on earth! They
remain united only to be a torment to each other!
A loving, united, harmonious family, where the
children all promote the comfort of their parents
and of one another; where each is studious to
please and to perform all fond kindnesses for the
rest, and all seek the happiness of each other, is
one of the loveliest scenes to be found in our
selfish and discordant world!
So much time thrown away on these elegant trifles!
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Eph. 5:16
There are three things which, if lost, can never
be recovered—time, the soul, and an opportunity.
In order to be useful, it is necessary to cultivate habits
of order, punctuality, and the right employment of time.
There is no doing good without the proper use of time.
Two things cannot be done at once. Benevolent service
requires time. And how much time is wasted, which the
miseries and needs of society require! "Redeem the time!"
is a warning that should ever be sounding in our ears!
We need time for the improvement of our own souls—and
we need it for the good of others. We can do much with a
proper use of time—and nothing without it. There is scarcely
anything to which the injunction of our Lord more strictly
applies than to time—"Gather up the fragments that nothing
be lost." Order redeems time, so does punctuality—therefore
order and punctuality are ways of supplying the time
necessary for the exercise of deeds of mercy.
Redeem time from useless reading, and other selfish
entertainments—and also from that excessive addictedness
to the worldly accomplishments of music, arts, and fancy
craft-works, which are so characteristic of the present day.
That some portion of time may be given to these things is
admitted. I am not for parting with the exquisite polish which
skill in these matters imparts to female elegance. I love to
see the decorations of female mind and manners. Of this I
may have to speak again in a future chapter, and therefore
shall merely now enquire—when the cries of misery are
entering into her ears, and the groans of creation are arising
all around her; when countless millions abroad are living and
dying without the light of the gospel and the hope of salvation;
when at our own doors will be found so many passing in
ignorance and wickedness to their eternal destinies—is it
humane for a Christian woman to spend so much precious
time each day over her knitting, crotchet, or embroidery
work? As she sits plying those needles, and bringing out,
it may be, the tasteful design, hour after hour—does she
never hear the cry of human woe, "Come over and help us!"
Does it never occur to her, how many souls have gone into
eternity unprepared to meet their God, since she took her
chair and commenced her daily entertainment?
Or, even leaving out of view the employment of her time
for deeds of mercy to others; is it not an afflicting sight
to behold so much time thrown away on these elegant
trifles, which might be employed in cultivating one's own
mind and heart, by reading useful Christian literature?
You cannot, systematically, do good either to yourself
or others, without redeeming time for the purpose!
True religion is . . .
It is a thing of the heart—and not merely
external religious forms.
True religion is a living principle in the soul . . .
influencing the mind,
alluring the affections,
guiding the will,
directing and enlightening the conscience.
True religion is a supreme—not a subordinate matter.
It demands and obtains the throne of the soul. It guides
the whole character—and requires the whole man and all
his conduct to be in subordination.
True religion is not an occasional thing—but habitual.
It takes up its abode in the heart—and not merely
visits it at certain times and at particular seasons.
True religion is not a partial thing—but universal.
It does not confine itself to certain times, places,
and occasions—but forms an integral part of the
character—and blends with everything we do.
True religion is noble and lofty—not an abject,
servile, and groveling thing. It communes . . .
True religion is a happy—and not a melancholy thing.
It gives peace that passes understanding, and joy that
is unspeakable, and full of glory!
True religion is a durable—and not a transient thing. It . . .
passes with us through life,
lies down with us on the pillow of death,
rises with us at the last day, and
dwells in our souls in heaven as the very element of eternal life!
Such is true religion—the most sublime thing in the
world—sent down to be our comforter on earth—and our
guide to everlasting life through all this gloomy valley!
Literature, science, politics, commerce, and the arts,
are all important in their place and measure; and men
give proof that they duly, or rather unduly estimate their
importance—by the devoted manner in which they attend
to them. To multitudes, these thing are everything.
Yet man is an immortal creature, and there is an eternity
before him—and what direct relation have these things
to immortality? Or what influence do they exert on our
everlasting destiny in the eternal world? More—do they
make us either virtuous or happy in this world? Is there
any necessary connection between any, or all of these
things—with human felicity? They call out and employ the
noble faculties of the mind; they raise man from savage
to civilized society; they refine the taste; they embellish
life; they decorate the stage on which the great drama
of existence is carried on—and give interest to the
But do any of these things reach the seat of man's
chief pleasures or pains—the heart? Do they . . .
cure its disorders,
correct its tastes,
mitigate its sorrows, or
soften its weightiest cares?
Do any of these things comfort man amid . . .
the wreck of his fortunes,
the disappointment of his hopes,
the loss of his friends,
the malignity of his enemies,
the pains of a sick chamber,
the struggles of a dying bed,
the prospect of a coming judgment?
No! True religion is that, and that alone, which can
do this! And this it can do, and is continually doing!
The surest guide to success in this world
What is your life, but a voyage to eternity!
A life altogether unprepared for, must be a life
of perpetual mistakes, faults, and miseries.
The chief preparation for life is the formation of a
moral and spiritual character. Genuine piety, the
parent of sound morality, is the surest guide to
success in this world. And as true religion is the
best guide to happiness in this world, likewise it
is the only way to happiness in the world to come.
True piety will preserve you from all the habits which
tend to poverty and misery—and aid the formation of
all habits which tend to usefulness and happiness.
"Who can show us any good?"
Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Man is made for happiness, and is capable of it. But
what is happiness—and how is it to be obtained?
To possess and enjoy it, man must be furnished with
some good—suited to his nature, adapted to his
condition, and adequate to his capacity and desires.
The nature of the chief good has been, in every age,
the interesting subject of most earnest philosophic
inquiry. But how various and opposed, have been the
conclusions at which the inquirers have arrived on this
important subject. Varro, a learned Latin writer, who
lived before Christ, reckoned up more than two hundred
different opinions on this subject—thus plainly evincing
man's ignorance of his own nature, circumstances, and
Not perceiving what it is that has made him miserable—man
cannot know what will make him happy! Unacquainted with,
or rather overlooking, the disease—he cannot know the remedy!
He feels an aching void within, an unsatisfied craving after
something—but knows neither the nature, nor the source, of
the food adapted to meet and satisfy his hungry appetite.
The vagrant spirit of man is seen wandering from God—the
fountain of bliss—roaming through this "dry and thirsty land,
where there is no water;" anxiously looking for happiness,
but never finding it; coming often to springs that are dry,
and to cisterns that are broken; until weary of the pursuit
and disappointed in its hopes, it is ready to give up all in
despair, and reconcile itself to misery, under the notion
that happiness is but a fiction!
In this sad and hopeless mood, the victim of grief
and despondency is met by the Bible, which takes
him by the hand, and leads him to the fountain of
living waters. Such is the design of Scripture—to
show first of all what will not make man happy,
and then what will.
Upon all the most coveted possessions of this world,
it pronounces the solemn and impressive sentence,
"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!" It interrogates singly
every coveted object of human desire, and asks, "What
are you?" only to receive the melancholy answer, "Vanity!"
Nothing 'on earth' can satisfy the soul of man, as its
supreme good. Science has multiplied its discoveries, art
its inventions, and literature its productions. Civilization
has opened new sources of luxury, and ingenuity has
added innumerable gratifications of appetite and of taste.
Every domain of nature has been explored; every conceivable
experiment been made, to find new means of enjoyment,
and new secrets of happiness. But still the heart of man
confirms, and the experience of the human race prolongs
the echo—"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!"
What is the nature and the source of happiness?
What is . . .
to terminate the weary pursuits,
to revive the languid hopes,
to gratify the anxious desires,
of destitute and sorrowing people,
hungering and thirsting after bliss?
What human reason is thus proved to be too ignorant
and too weak to decide, the Bible undertakes to settle;
and explicitly, imperatively, and infallibly, determines
for all and forever. Only Biblical Christianity . . .
suits the nature,
meets the needs,
alleviates the sorrows,
satisfies the desires,
of the human soul—and is its portion forever.
Only Christianity . . .
finds man depraved—and makes him holy;
finds him little—and makes him great;
finds him earthly—and raises him to heaven!
"You are my portion, O my God. Your favor is
life, and your love is better than life. You are
the center, the rest, the home of my heart!"
"Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again;
but whoever drinks the water I give him will never
thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in
him a spring of water welling up to eternal life!"
The idol of our day!
One of the evils of our age, is an excessive love
of pleasure, which leads to self-indulgence, and
indisposes the mind for sober thought and true piety.
Love of pleasure is one of the growing tendencies of
the day in which we live, and threatens infinite damage
to the present and eternal welfare of mankind, by
bringing on an age of frivolity, sensuality and 'practical
Find your pleasure, young men . . .
in the improvement of your mind,
in attention to duties,
in true piety, and
in active benevolence.
Is there not scope enough for enjoyment here?
Excessive worldliness is another of the dangers of this
age. In our wealthy and materialistic country, there is
most imminent peril of sinking into the mere worldling,
and living only to get wealth. Never was there so great
a danger of having . . .
the conscience benumbed,
moral principles prostrated,
the heart rendered callous,
the intellect emptied of its strength,
as in the age in which we live!
Wealth is the idol of our day! Without watchfulness
and prayer, you are in danger of . . .
bowing devoutly at its shrine,
becoming its worshipers, and
immolating your souls as a burnt-offering on its altars!
A bad word!
"We may throw the dice, but the Lord
determines how they fall." Proverbs 16:33
"Luck!" There is no such thing in our world,
none in nature, none in human affairs.
Luck means that an event has no cause at all.
It is a bad word—a heathen term. Drop it from
your vocabulary! Trust nothing to luck, and
expect nothing from it. Avoid all practical
dependence upon it or its kindred words . . .
Never forget your dependence upon God. He can
exalt you to prosperity—or sink you into the lowest
depth of adversity. He can make everything to which
you set your hand to prosper—or to fail. Devoutly
acknowledge this. Abhor the atheism that shuts
God out of His own world!